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Marine vet’s son helps him reconnect with medic who helped him after being wounded

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - 30 years ago, America was coming out of the Gulf War and a Scott County man built a friendship from his hospital bedside at Andrews Airforce Base.

Now, 30 years later, that man’s son brought that relationship back to life.

Relationships can be hard to build and easy to break, but, if you’re lucky, they can be rebuilt with the click of a button.

“I was with the 8th Battalion, 1st Marines, 2nd Marine division,” said John Hord III, Gulf War veteran.

John was part of the spearhead during Operation Desert Storm. He lost four of his toes on his left foot after he stepped on a mine.

“I was like ‘don’t BS me doc, how bad is it?’ and he said ‘Well, you’re missing some toes.’ At that point, I knew that I could do some toes,” John said.

John was taken to a hospital in Germany where they were able to save one of his toes.

“That’s where I start to get into a little depressive state,” John said. “I get back to Andrews Airforce Base and one of the first people I meet is Sandra.”

“The memory for me is like the moment when I asked if I could care for his wound and asked for them to please give him more medication because he was, it just seemed so painful for him,” said Sandra Valerio, a former US Airforce airman.

“She was very just caring and compassionate,” John said.

“It was slow and it was long, but I remember being proud of how clean it was afterward,” said Valerio.

“She looked like an angel,” John said.

John would be released and he and Sandra went about the rest of their lives. In 30 years, the relationship they built in that short stay from a hospital bedside faded into the background. Until one day during virtual learning.

“I was kind of just sitting there doing some of my work, and then I finished one of my assignments,” said John’s son, Great Crossings High School senior Tanner Hord said. “I was looking some stuff up and one of the things I looked up was John Hord III. I read it and it was a story I had never heard before.”

“My son walks in and says ‘Hey Dad, does the name Sandra Valerio mean anything to you?’” said John.

“At first I thought I was in trouble because he was kind of like, ‘Why did you do that?’” Tanner said.

“My first [thought] was you shouldn’t contact strangers but then that was so absurd,” John said. “This person who meant a lot to me in my life, I may have this opportunity to speak with them to see them again.”

So, they set up a zoom call.

“The minute that we saw each other on camera, it was, as I describe it, pure joy,” said John.

And, just like that, a relationship 30 years lost, found again in an instant and reforged for a lifetime.

“I hope Tanner understands how much joy he’s brought to me and my family,” said Valerio.

“Thank you, Tanner,” John said. “That’s just all I can say. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

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